book review

For Fans of Buffy | When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn

Friday, November 09, 2018

When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: 7/17/18
Pages: 272
Source: BEA 2018 (Thanks, Macmillan!)
Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own. High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.
When life gives you demons, you exorcise them, of course. Shelby is an exorcist in training but certainly doesn't want anyone to know about that part of her life. When she finds out the truth about her absent mother, it's difficult to keep her occupation a secret. When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn follows Shelby as she navigates through high school and demon hunting.

  • Based on the title and synopsis you can easily expect a few things from this novel. It's a book that is absolutely hilarious and will certainly have you laughing out loud. Also, despite dealing with demons, the story is undeniably adorable. 
  • I've never before read about a teen who is interested and is in training to become an exorcist. When Life Gives You Demons offers such a unique flare to the contemporary genre. 
  • The writing is extremely fast paced. Honeybourn writes action packed sequences very well. When Life Gives You Demons is certainly a book every reader can finish in one sitting. Not only is it bite-sized but it’s laugh out loud hilarious and filled with tons of fun! 
beep me buffy the vampire slayer GIF
  • Shelby is an interesting and headstrong character. She's stubborn and flawed but never ceases to make readers laugh in the face of danger. Shelby’s voice is very conversational. Her narrative targets the younger YA crowd but the funny plot is sure to entertain readers of all ages. She is super likable. Though as much as I don't think we would be besties, her occupation as an exorcist in training is compelling and curious. 
  • Unfortunately, there's a few holes in the story when other character roles are revealed. This could have been easily remedied with a bit more background or character depth. 
  • Despite liking Shelby, she is the only character readers ever really get to know. I would have loved to know more about Spencer, Shelby's crush or even about the cool demon hunting league at the cabin. There were so many opportunities that readers could get more tidbits on all the characters. Yet, readers only get small facts about each character. They lacked substance, making it quite difficult to really care for any character besides Shelby. Unfortunately, When Life Gives You Demons is filled with flat characters. 
  • The story is a bit predictable, despite having such a fun and entertaining premise. Readers can see what is coming next from miles away. Even the reveals and twists were easy to guess. 
  • The ending leaves the story on a happy note and even opens it up for a possible sequel in the future. This fun adventure leaves readers satisfied.

For fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jennifer Honeybourn's new book gives readers one wild ride. When Life Gives You Demons is such good fun with an action packed story, headstrong protagonist and a unique plot.

book review

A New Favorite | The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

Friday, November 02, 2018

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 11/6/18
Pages: 432
Source: publishing in exchange for honest review (Thanks, Bloomsbury!)
Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family's enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good. In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.
The Judges have been stealing Augurs’ land and taking it for their own, stealing their magic and making the sides unequal in nature’s balance. It is time for Augurs to fight back. Wren, an Augur who can foretell the future, goes undercover as an intern to find a hidden map that will lead her family to the magic they so need. Working for the Judges, Wren discovers more than maps and her loyalty starts to waver. The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson is an immersive novel with superb world building, fantastic writing, and a clever plot that won’t leave you for days afterwards.

  • Mary Watson brings major spooky vibes in her YA debut. The setting descriptions: a legendary cottage, dew laden forests, farmlands, and abandoned buildings all play a part in creating such a spooky atmosphere in The Wren Hunt. The intricacy of the imagery will sweep readers away into The Wren Hunt world. It is certainly perfect to read during the autumn months!
  • Watson whisks you away to Ireland right in time for Stephen's Day. To be honest, I had to do some extra research on celebrations, like the wren hunt, and other Celtic traditions. Watson builds the foundation of her world assuming most readers will be familiar with these customs. Beyond that, the magical notes of the brewing war between the Augurs and the Judges begins to take shape. The differences between the Judges and the Augurs—this long estrangement builds within the story, almost to the point where the gap between them seems almost tangible. The world building was superb, giving readers layers of magical history.
  • The writing was melodic. Watson poetically tells Wren’s story. Its fast pacing is magnificently done. 
  • The Wren Hunt has a large cast of characters. It was difficult to keep all of them straight especially two characters on the Augurs side—Simon and Scott. Their similar names always confused me. Yet, several of them stand out. Wren, of course, shines as the star. She’s quiet, thoughtful, and determined. She goes undercover for her family to return what they've lost, even when her family doesn’t even give her all the answers. She’s trusting, which is a bit frustrating at times but realistic. Wren is not the sort of character who knows it all—about her powers, the Judges, their history, and even her own history. So, in that way, we learn as she learns which is always the best way to develop a character as well as learn more about the world they live in. Tarc quickly becomes a favorite. He's curious and incredibly flirtatious. He is, by far, one of the most interesting characters with his mysterious background. Hopefully, in the upcoming companion novel, we shall hear more from him. 
  • The ending held one of most clever and masterful reveals I've read in such a long time. The foreshadowing coupled with the incredible world building makes for an absolute must read. 
The Wren Hunt calls for an immediate reread to fully comprehend how Watson has woven such a fantastical book. This is one of my favorite books of the year! 

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: November 2018

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. I was so inspired by booktuber’s, BooksandLala, Closet Unhaul series to tackle my own TBR in a similar method. I'm going to challenge myself to read books from my old hauls and if I can’t complete them within the month, I must unhaul them the next month. Also, any readathons or other challenges for the month will also be posted in this monthly post.


Last month, I was working on my August of 2010 book haul, totaling at 6 books. It was a little more ambitious but by moving some books around for readathons, I was able to complete 5 of the 6 books. I was pumped to continue Jealousy by Lili St. Crow since I've been reading a book from that series every month. It was entertaining and I'm looking forward to continuing on. The thing about continuing on in series is that, if they're good, I never want them to end-- which is why I haven't continued on in the Touch series until now. Deadly Little Games by Laurie Faria Stolarz was so much fun; I gave it 5 stars! As for the Maximum Ride series, I'm not liking the direction James Patterson is leading it but Angel was enjoyable.


I finished Awakened by P.C. and Kristin Cast-- it was nice to check with my favorite characters. Ghost Town by Rachel Caine was certainly a throwback to all my favorite characters as well. The book had some problematic issues but it'll be interesting to see how the series continues from there. Unfortunately, I did not finish Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick so my goal is to finish that book by the end of the year. If I don't, I'll have to unhaul it.


Now on to this month's reads from an old haul. This month I'll be working on my September 2010 book haul. There appears to be quite a lot of books to read this month. Though, I'm hoping to give it my best shot.



Destined by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast: This is the 9th book in the House of Night series. I wasn’t particularly floored by any cliffhanger in the last book that I read in October but it’ll be nice to continue the series.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: I’ve seen the movie and remember liking it so it’s definitely time to read the book. Lena has been struggling to control her powers. Ethan has been dreaming about a girl he’s never met. When their paths cross, their secrets try to tear them apart.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano: I’ll probably end up unhauling this one. I’ve read some reviews from friends I trust and I just don’t think this one is for me anymore. Set in a dystopian world, Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride and she will stop at nothing to recapture the life she had before.


Defiance by Lili St. Crow: I am so glad that I am doing this tbr project because it’s really making me finish this series that I’ve started years ago. As it turns out, I won’t finish the series this year but this is the 4th book in a 5 book series so I’m confident on finishing it soon.

The Fledging Handbook 101 by P.C. Cast with Kim Doner: This is a small add-in companion novel to the House of Night series. I’m going to hold off reading this one until I finish the series (four more books to go!)

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff: I was going to read this during the Spookathon but decided to change my TBR at the last minute. So, November is the month to try it out. Our protagonist has always been a bit different but when his crush’s sister goes missing, it is up to him to find her in the underworld.

Cloaked by Alex Flinn: Back in high school, I adored reading Flinn’s work. I can’t wait to read this one! Cloaked is a mash-up of fairytales, but primarily a retelling of The Frog Prince.

Lalathon

I'm having so much fun participating in readathons each month, so when BooksandLala announced her very own readathon, I knew I was going to try to read along. There aren't any set challenges for this one, except to read some of BooksandLala's favorite books. She made a video of over 150 favorites and I found a couple that I already own. What better time to get to them now!


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: This one will be a reread. I’ve been hoping to continue in the series—I’ve only ever read this one and absolutely loved it! However, I don’t remember a thing about it.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: I’m slowly making my way through the Raven Cycle series. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third in the series. The books are very character-driven and it’ll be fun to see what Blue and the gang are up to in this one.

Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie: Anthologies are always fun, and usually quick! This time some amazing authors teamed up with booktubers to create some villainous stories.

What do you plan to read this month? Are you planning on any rereads?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: October 2018 Wrap Up

Thursday, November 01, 2018


Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. October, reading-wise, was a good month. I was even able to finish my longest book of the year, totaling at 732 pages. Plus, there were quite a few 5-star reads which is unusual for me. I even participated in Spookathon which got me in the mood to read all the scary books that have been sitting on my shelves waiting for October to come. Overall, I got 13 books done this month! Here’s my October recap:



The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs (3 stars): I’ve been trying to read a bit more middle grade books so when I heard about a book with major Stranger Things vibes, I definitely wanted to give it a go. This seems like one of those books that will continue to get better as the series goes on. Right now, this first book in the series is the initial introduction of a world, that if developed more, could be an awesome series!

Sadie by Courtney Summers (4 stars): If you love thrillers or podcasts, definitely give this one a go. Better yet, read Sadie via audiobook. It has a full cast: told half in podcast and half in narrative. It’s intense, dark, and bone-chilling.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (4 stars): Another book I really enjoyed! It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting when I started it. This book tackles a long-distance relationship and communication problems. The story was a bit repetitive, flying back and forth from each other’s residences. Overall, it was super cute. I may even pick up Guillory’s latest, The Proposal.


Jealousy by Lili St. Crow (3 stars): I’ve been working on reading the Strange Angels series; this is the third book. I don’t particularly like the repetitive language but the plot is quite entertaining. I’m planning on reading the fourth book next month.

Dark Visions by L.J. Smith (4 stars): If I had read this in high school, I would have probably given it a 5 star. The story was interesting and with non-stop action, I was always on the edge of my seat. It was a cliché-ridden plot with X-Men vibes but it was fun.

Angel by James Patterson (3 stars): To be honest, I don’t even know what book this is up to in the series. But I remember now why I haven’t continued the Maximum Ride series in such a long time. Not to spoil it, but my reason for not continuing was still not resolved in this one. Also, I’m not a big fan of Angel. She’s a bit of a know-it-all. Let’s hope the next one will be put in a better direction.


Ghost Town by Rachel Caine (4 stars): What a throwback! This is the 9th book in the Morganville Vampires series. As much as there were a few problems with this book, it was entertaining and I was happy to say hello to all my favorite characters.

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil (2 stars): My second—and most likely last book—of Gretchen McNeil that I’ll try. I wanted to love this one: there’s alternate universes, a cute romance, and mysterious monsters in the night. It just wasn’t for me. The romance fell flat. The alternate universes could have been developed a bit more. And the book focused on high school drama rather than saving the world.

Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs (3 stars): This anthology turned out to be much more… peculiar than I was expecting. It had the whimsy that I adore from Riggs but some of the stories were just too out there for me.


Deadly Little Games by Laurie Faria Stolarz (5 stars): It seems this was the month of reading sequels. Stolarz has been one of my favorite authors since high school. Her writing is superb and her stories always keep you guessing. I loved this one. It made me curious how the series will continue, what with both characters slowly figuring out their powers with each book.

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich (5 stars): So amazing! If you are ever looking for a creepy book to read, this one should be on the top of that list. The imagery alone will give you nightmares.

Awakened by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (3 stars): Last month, I mentioned how I’m over the House of Night series. And I still am. It’s getting old—the same enemy, the same issues. I’m really just here for my favorite characters. The ending of Awakened was surprising and hopefully, will change things up for the next book.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson (5 stars): NEW FAVORITE! I was a bit hesitant about this one because I don’t really read books about witches anymore. But this was so much more than a witch book. It has masterful world building and amazing, developed characters.


The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs | Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: This one sounds like something I’m definitely going to love. A fantasy where every year, girls are chosen to serve the king—and this year, Lei is chosen. A lot of people are already hyping this one up so I hope it surpasses expectations.

The Reckoning of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin: I am sorely not caught up in the first series to go on to the spin-off yet. However, I loved reading about Noah and can’t wait to read his books after finishing Mara Dyer’s.



With the Spookathon this month, I didn’t watch a lot of TV nor movies. There were plenty shows that releases on Netflix that I plan on watching in the future, including The Haunting of Hill House and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Have you watched those yet? Also, I caught a showing of A Star is Born at my local theater. I loved the soundtrack. However, the movie was a bit more heavy than I was expecting and before I knew it, I was crying my eyes out at that ending. Lady Gaga gave a lovely performance and I’m looking forward to hearing about some Oscar buzz for Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut.

lady gaga GIF by TIFF

How was your October? What books did you read? Did you watch any shows/movies?

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Spooky Books to Add to Your Halloween TBR

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween is coming up-- it's tomorrow! While I am far from being prepared, I still have to go buy some candy for all those trick or treaters, I thought it the perfect time highlight some of my favorite spooky books. If you have time, check out one or two of these and definitely add them to your to-read list!


This list is mixed with mysteries, thrillers, and even some horror. Yet, they all have some spooky vibes thrown in. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Spooky Books to Spruce Up Your Halloween TBR:


Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco: It's historical fiction but with a deadly mystery lurking about. The string of murders is not about to deter Audrey from discovering who is behind them. This book certainly has its scary moments but the atmosphere Maniscalco creates is absolutely bone-chilling.

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle: When I went into this one, I was expecting witches and spells and all those supernatural things. Yet, it wasn't what I received. Set in Ireland, the backwoods setting is enough to give the book some creepy vibes, but add on a mysterious family curse and it's downright spooky.

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich: Kurtagich is the queen of horror! Recently, I read this one and it gave me nightmares. Two sisters seek refuge with their aunt. There is something not quite right about their aunt's house, however. They start to notice voices, strange noises, and the trees get mysteriously closer every time they look outside.


These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly: If you loved Stalking Jack the Ripper, you will definitely love These Shallow Graves. Both historical fiction, both strong female protagonists, and both uncovering a mystery. I must admit, that cover is more creepy than the actual plot but there are plenty of spooks to be had.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: This one is the only adult book on this list but it is also one of the scariest and most thought-provoking books I've ever read. The story is told in several layers, essentially about a house that has a will of its own.

Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz: Laurie Faria Stolarz is one of my favorite authors! A group of teens decide to spend the night in an haunted asylum that is meant to be torn down in the morning. They film their findings, uncovering a past that should have stayed buried.


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: I admit that I barely remember anything about this book. However, I did rate it 5 out of 5 stars. And Mara Dyer, an unreliable narrator, certainly leads you in circles while giving off some major creepy vibes.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich: The second Kurtagich book on this list and, if I had to rank them, this would be the most spookiest. Told in files, text messages, journal entries and more, Kurtagich tells the story of Clary, a girl who disappeared after a fire that claimed the life of three students.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson: This book releases November 6th. And it's such a quick and fantastic read! Set in Ireland, Wren must go undercover as an intern in enemy territory to uncover the maps that lead to her family's stolen magic.


Nightingale by Amy Lukavics: I was expecting a terrifying horror from the synopsis but what we get is a grusome sci-fi. Lukavics will have you cringing at every page (in a good way, of course). When June refuses her parents, they send her to an asylum where things are not quite what they seem.

What spooky reads are you planning to read this Halloween?